The Last of Mr. Jones

Posted in Editorial, Film, Music with tags , , on 14/01/2016 by personalmephistopheles

“That’s the sound of death – that’s what it sounds like: doors opening.”

-David Bowie, Reality (2003)

It was around 4:30 in the morning when I got the news – first via a text from my brother, and then via floods of messages, tweets, etc from various friends.  I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts ever since.  I’m still not sure that I’ve succeeded, but I’m going to try anyway.  I’m not sure that I owe as much to any artist, musical or otherwise, as I do to David Bowie.  It sounds cliché to say “Bowie saved my life” or “Bowie made me who I am today,” but in many ways, both are absolutely true, so fuck it.

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Uneasy Animals: The Wolf as Criminal in ‘Les Misérables’

Posted in Character Analysis, Les Misérables, Literature with tags , , , , , , , , , on 03/09/2013 by personalmephistopheles

“All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel. …Think about it. There’s escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.”

–Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin.

The wolf, like any number of animals frequently used as symbols, is one that can be imbued with a number of meanings, many of them contradictory.  It is perhaps this versatility that makes wolves and wolf imagery so popular in literature, film, and music, indicating both aloneness and pack mentality, sexuality and transformation, responsibility and wilderness, and any number of other things.  As a result, it is no surprise that Victor Hugo not only makes use of at least one possible interpretation of wolf imagery throughout Les Misérables, but uses that interpretation in a number of different ways and in association with a broad range of characters.

The most consistent use of wolf imagery in Les Misérables is in relation to criminal activity, with references to “furtive goings and comings, silent entrances and exits of nocturnal men, and the wolf-like tread of crime” (5.3.8).  Most often Hugo’s use of wolf imagery extends to the notion of criminality in regards to several of the characters found in the novel, from Bamatabois’ wolf-like gait as he creeps up on Fantine (1.5.12) to Montparnasse’s demeanour upon being caught by Valjean, which is described as being “the humiliated and furious attitude of the wolf who has been caught by a sheep” (4.4.2).  This imagery extends from these minor characters to a sizeable number of major players in the novel, who all exist in various shades of grey morally but who are all, in some way, linked together through imagery and contact with one another.

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‘Do you permit it?’: An Analysis of the Enjolras and Grantaire relationship in ‘Les Misérables’

Posted in Character Analysis, Film, Les Misérables, Literature with tags , , , , , , , , on 21/08/2013 by personalmephistopheles

‘Do you permit it?’: An Analysis of the Enjolras and Grantaire relationship in Les Misérables

[An article written for Stage Door Dish on 21/03/2013]

A brief examination of the Enjolras – Grantaire dynamic as seen in Victor Hugo’s Les MisérablesTom Hooper’s film adaptation, and the 25th Anniversary concert.

How colourful costuming in ‘Les Misérables’ brings the Barricade Boys to life

Posted in Character Analysis, Film, Les Misérables with tags , , , on 21/08/2013 by personalmephistopheles

How colourful costuming in Les Misérables brings the Barricade Boys to life

[An article written for Stage Door Dish on 20/03/2013]

A look at the usage of colour and costuming in Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Les Misérables and how they are used to help illustrate the personalities of the members of Les Amis de L’ABC.

A Strategic 1-2 Punch: Thoughts on Kaiju Biology and the Otachi-Leatherback Double Event

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , on 07/08/2013 by personalmephistopheles

[Note: The following meta is the product of me thinking entirely too much about watching Pacific Rim and Kaiju biology.  Most of this is speculation on my part, and may be disproved by information that I don’t currently have access to, so if you know something that I don’t know then by all means, do tell shoot me a message or something of that nature.  Anyway, here goes nothing.]

The easiest way for me to start this is by examining briefly what we do know about Kaiju biology.  We know, for instance, via Newt’s initial drift with the damaged Kaiju brain, that Kaijus – at least the ones that leave the Breach – share a collective consciousness, a sort of hivemind.  Through the same drift, we also know that the Kaijus that leave the Breach are all clones, sharing the same genetic material despite displaying wildly different shapes and adaptations.

Lastly, we also know that Kaijus have two brains, the latter of the two being the secondary brain, the location of which Newt indicates by referencing the popular myth of the “dinosaur’s second brain” (it is pretty safe to assume that Newt knows that the dinosaurs did not have an actual second brain, but given the continued popularity of the myth today, it makes a good reference point to explain the location of a piece of Kaiju biology to a layperson).

Now what’s really cool to me, is the implications of some of these facts when paired with other things that we see in the film. Continue reading

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Actor

Posted in Editorial, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on 02/03/2013 by personalmephistopheles

I feel like the first thing I should do when writing this little editorial is to apologise to the majority of you who have mentioned being eager to read it, as it’s going to be less analytical than a personal reflection on the nature of the relationship between an actor and the character they play, and what that means in relation to writing. Continue reading

What’s in a Name? Worknames in John Le Carré’s Karla Trilogy

Posted in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/11/2012 by personalmephistopheles

Warning!: This article contains major plot spoilers for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and mild spoilers for The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People.  If you wish to remain unspoiled, then I advise that you skip this article.
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John Le Carré’s work is known, perhaps more than anything, for the way in which details are used to tell the story contained within the novel – no detail is wasted, and nearly everything, no matter how obscure, goes towards the end of giving the reader insight into the story, or the characters who reside within it.  One such detail is the use of what is known within the Circus as the workname.  Within Le Carré’s work, and specifically in this instance, within the Karla Trilogy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyThe Honourable Schoolboy; and Smiley’s People), the Circus tradition of the workname provides a double function, both in the sense that the workname conveys information about the agent who bears it and in the sense that there is a very deliberate order and reasoning to which worknames the reader learns and when they learn them.

In order to understand Le Carré’s use of worknames as a device within his novels, it is essential that the reader understand the operational function of the workname.  While it is easy to conflate an agent’s workname with an alias, what evidence can be pulled from the novels suggests that they are similar but not at all synonymous.  Unlike an alias, which may be used in any number of ways (and any given agent may have a large number of them), the workname has a small number of prescribed uses.  The first of these, as seen in all three novels, is for the sake of record-keeping.  The Circus keeps an extensive database of worknames associated agents both in-action and retired (Smiley’s People 62), and when an agent is mentioned in files, reports, and other such documents, they are commonly referred to by their workname (Tinker, Tailor 78, 90).  In addition, an agent will generally – in the field at least, use their workname with other agents, particularly if there is a fear of wire-tapping or other forms of surveillance (The Honourable Schoolboy 518).  However, with more casual informants, the agent will generally use an alias rather than their workname, which is more closely guarded. Continue reading

On the Sexual Orientation of Peter Guillam

Posted in Character Analysis, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with tags , , , , , on 12/11/2012 by personalmephistopheles

[As posted on 02/10/2012]

Anonymous asked:

Hello Monte! I was curious as to what you thought of the portrayal as Guillam as a homosexual in the TTSS movie.  It is a pretty significant departure from the book, and I was curious for your thoughts.  Why do you think it was portrayed thus in the movie?  Was it effective?  Which portrayal, homosexual or heterosexual, do you think works best for Guillam’s character?  Thanks!

While it is, generally speaking, a pretty significant departure from the book, and I confess to having been initially sceptical for a number of reasons, the vast majority of my feelings towards this aspect of Peter Guillam’s portrayal in the film are entirely positive for a number of reasons. Continue reading

Character Study: Mycroft Holmes

Posted in Character Analysis, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/11/2012 by personalmephistopheles

[As posted on 13/01/2012]

“He calls you the Iceman.”

Mycroft Holmes is one of the most complex characters in Sherlock, possibly more so than even his brother.  During Series One, the audience learns very little about Mycroft, save that he, according to Sherlock, “is the British Government (when he’s not too busy being the British Secret Services or the CIA on a freelance basis)” and that according to him, he and Sherlock have a “difficult relationship.”  However, while the first episode of Series Two does everything in its power to confirm Sherlock’s assessment, it calls into question Mycroft’s – as the impression is given that perhaps their relationship is not so much difficult as it is incredibly complex.

Even after this episode, there are several questions yet to be answered about Mycroft’s character, and what is known (as well as what can be inferred from what is known) could take pages and pages to cover, so understandably, what is given here is only to be taken as a sort of “cliff notes” to Mycroft Holmes (I will personally be happy to elaborate on any given point). Continue reading

Character Study: Molly Hooper

Posted in Character Analysis, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes with tags , , , , , , , , , on 12/11/2012 by personalmephistopheles

[As posted on 06/01/2012]

Molly Hooper is a character that is often overlooked in Sherlock, but who is actually our first bridge into the title character’s world.  We meet John Watson first, but it is with Molly that we first see both Sherlock Holmes in action as well as his interactions with other people.  Despite seemingly easily overlooked, Molly is a significantly more interesting and dynamic character than she may appear upon a first-time watching of “A Study in Pink,” especially in her transition from Series One to Series Two. Continue reading

Character Study: John Watson

Posted in Character Analysis, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes with tags , , , , , , , on 12/11/2012 by personalmephistopheles

[As posted on 04/01/2012]

At first glance, John Watson appears to be one of the most straight-forward characters in the series, and by the end of Series One, very little disproves this.  We know who he is, we more about his past than really any of the other characters, and we know more or less how he operates.

However, despite, or perhaps because of his limited presence in “A Scandal in Belgravia,” John Watson suddenly comes back and punches a hole in everything we thought we knew about him.  Certainly the writing for his character is wonderful, and Martin Freeman’s remarkable control over every aspect of his performance lends John Watson the complexity and nuance that he deserves Continue reading

Character Study: Irene Adler

Posted in Character Analysis, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes with tags , , , , , , , on 12/11/2012 by personalmephistopheles

[As posted on 03/01/2012]

Rather than waste your time, I will start with what will probably either make you continue to read this post or click the back button immediately:

I adore Lara Pulver’s Irene Adler.

Do I understand the concerns that people have about both her and the story?  Yes.  Do I intend to call those of you who have those concerns idiots?  No.  However, what I do intend to do is present my own reading of the character and her story, which you are welcome to accept wholly, in part, or not at all.

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